October 27, 2008

Staying the course

Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson is not flustered in the midst of his team's five-game losing streak.

He is upset and somewhat frustrated, but Erickson has been around college football for a long time and knows better than to make any drastic changes.

Erickson intends to stick to his plan and he knows ASU will soon get some much-needed wins.

"We are going to stay the damn course," he said Monday. "If you do it every day and every week, things turn. It will just happen.

"Unfortunately I've been in this situation before in some places. We were able to get out of it just because we kept working hard and working hard and the players kept working hard. Eventually things turn."

And quarterback Rudy Carpenter also said he is trying to stay the course.

Carpenter said he tries to keep himself on an even-keel as much as possible, and he isn't letting the losses affect him.

"I'm just trying to play, and trying to help our team, and trying to stay on the same path and not get too high and not get too low," Carpenter said. "I feel like I'm just being tested a little bit as far as my character and what I'm going to do.

"Am I going to quit and give up? Or am I going to keep on working hard and keep on trying to help our team win games? I chose the latter."

Erickson admitted Monday for the first time that the team's confidence level is a little down, but he said that is normal for a team that has lost five consecutive contests.

"Any time you lose five straight football games and you're not playing well, you're confidence is not nearly as high as when I sat here and we were 8-0 a year ago," he said. "That's just the nature of it. Any time you lose, any time things aren't going very well, you find a way to lose a football game, your confidence isn't there."

And that confidence dip could be one reason why the 2008 and 2007 ASU football teams have had such different results.

Both teams practiced the same way and prepared for games the same way. The difference between the two teams has been the ability to transfer that preparation into execution on Saturdays.

Carpenter said he could talk for hours about his theories as to why that is, but he said the biggest issue with the 2008 team has been its on-field mistakes.

"It doesn't feel dramatically different," he said, comparing last season's preparation to this season's. "Obviously it's not working. So maybe we need to figure out a way to change something.

"All that matters is that we're making too many mistakes, whether it's in practice or whether it's in games. When you do that you can't score points. That's been our problem all year."

But throughout both Erickson's and Carpenter's press conferences Monday, there was still a lot of talk about having five games left and taking them one at a time.

Erickson hopes and believes his team will improve every time it takes the field because he wants to send the seniors off on a high note.

"Nothing in the future concerns me right now other than what happens for those seniors that are going to finish their careers in the next five weeks," he said. "All I care about for those seniors right now to go out as winners."

And Carpenter, a senior, wants to end his final season in Tempe with some wins too.
He has been to a bowl game every year, and still believes this team will win enough games to keep that streak alive.

However, Carpenter dos not want to look too far ahead.

"To be honest with you, I do [think ASU will make a bowl," he said. "But we're worried about Oregon State. We're just trying to get back in the win column."


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